NEWS

Toronto city council eases restrictions on food trucks

05/05/2015 11:07 EDT | Updated 05/05/2016 05:59 EDT
The red tape that has stifled Toronto food truck operators has been loosened — slightly. 

It turns out very few truck operators were willing to pay hefty fees only to be told that they had to stay at least 50 metres from any so-called brick and mortar restaurants. 

Toronto city council voted 43-1 on Tuesday to ease the rules around food truck permits, allowing them to operate 30 metres from an open and operating restaurant.

The trucks will be able to stay in place for five hours every 24 hours, instead of the current three. Trucks will also be allowed to use five square metres of sidewalk, up from 3.48 square metres.

This comes a year after the city allowed food trucks to operate in downtown parking spots.

Ward 15 Coun. Josh Colle said people realized "the world's not going to fall apart by having a few more fish tacos."

"We're often so timid in this city. I don't understand it, but I think food trucks, for a lot of residents, are emblematic of what they want to see out of city hall," Colle said to reporters.

"Just let entrepreneurs do their business and give residents their choices. They don't care about spats between certain segments of an industry."

Changing the rules from 50 to 30 metres means about 1,200 new parking spots will open up throughout the city, according to the chef of one food truck, Blazin Cajun.

"It's going to give us a much bigger audience," said Chef Ramon. 

Tuesday's move was seen as a compromise.

Good for business

"I would have it at three metres but I guess that there's a recognition that there's some kind of balancing act that has to be done in council chamber. So it's, I think, excellent progress," said Colle.

Mayor John Tory has been a proponent of relaxing the rules and doing away with regulatory red tape in the city.

"We simply have to to find more ways, as I believe we have done in this instance, to say yes as a council," he said on council.

On Monday, Tory said in a speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade that businesses ­­— both established and fledgling — are being "stifled by endless bylaws and a Byzantine regulatory environment."

Part of the resistance to food truck operations in the city has also been from restaurant owners who feel threatened by increased competition.

However, the head of the Toronto Food Truck Alliance, Zane Caplansky, believes Tuesday's council decision will actually be good for established restaurants.

Caplansky himself owns both a food truck and a traditional restaurant.

"I would rather have deli trucks in front of Capansky's because food people would get a sandwich from them, a sandwich from me. They'd be tweeting and Instagramming those things and it becomes a bit of a scene," he said.

"The same reason that Home Depot, and Canadian Tire, and Rona all locate in the same area," he added. "Competition is good for business."

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